A friend of mine, a friend I’ve only recently had the pleasure of calling a friend, asked me recently if I would ever consider living permanently in Lebanon, my father’s home country.
The honest answer is yes and no: I would love to have a home in the capital city of Beirut. I love my father’s family, and I love the city, its people, the culture, the food. I love the buzz that surges through it at all hours of the day, like a Red Bull you decided to drink at six in the evening but didn’t kick in until three in the morning, and you can’t go to sleep now because you have brunch with all nine-hundred sixty-one of your aunts and uncles and cousins at ten, and if you’re not there promptly, you’ve brought shame upon your entire house, so good luck, champ.
But I could never live there permanently, by which I mean constantly. I have never had one home. Never. By virtue of being the child of two very different people from two very different places, my lifetime has largely been spent bouncing between these different places, and for me, that time spent traveling has been the best time of my life, and this is something I hope to do forever.
I am very lucky to have been born to those I call my parents, to have spent a good chunk of my life on planes. I got to experience two very different cultures. I got to immerse myself in so many things, learn so many things. I learned to think in so many different ways, see through such varied eyes. I will always be grateful that I got to travel as much as I did, that I still get to travel as much as I do.
We rarely ever agree on anything, but I’ll always be grateful that my dad is Lebanese. I’m thankful he came to the States looking for an education and wound up finding a wife. I’m thankful my American mother fell in love with the Middle Eastern kid on the soccer team, because while that may have meant that I’d never have one homeland, to me, this meant that I’d never be forced to only call one place my home.
Home to me is airports, the constant hum of activity, the travelers stumbling through the motions, comparing those poor, frightened souls flying for the first time to those jet-setting on a daily basis. Moving through the security lines and navigating terminals, more often than not on my own, has become second nature to me.
Home to me is stepping onto the runway in a distant land, taking my first breath on foreign soil, tasting the difference in the air.
Home to me is ten thousand languages, cascading around me as I’m caught in the current of a river of emotion, flowing to the tune of ten thousand different words.
I thank my dad and my mom for being who they are. They gave me the opportunities to see a world most people never get to see, and this always fascinates people. It amazes those who hear my story that I spent my life forever abroad.
But to me, this, traveling, sightseeing, learning, diving head-first into these experiences…
This is my Normal.
When I have a family, I want my children to know the world far better than me.
I want them to learn, to grow, and to do it while seeing it all with their own eyes.
The Internet is a marvel, let’s be honest. We’ve learned so much about other cultures, other ways of life. We can speak through the Earth and touch other souls around the world with a simple
But the Internet can’t capture your stomach sinking as the jet takes off, your heart soaring when the wheels meet the runway.
The Internet can’t recreate the taste of the salt in the Mediterranean air, how different it is from the sandy mist of Cairo, the foggy chill of London, the dry crackling in Hong Kong.
It can’t take you by the hand and lead you through ruins and temples, city streets and mountain peaks.
It can’t drop you into a crowded square of ten million people, not one of them knowing your name, and force you to soak everything in as you dance on the edge of exploding from excitement and fear all at once.
Sitting at your desk and reading, taking notes, watching videos, learning, all of this is fantastic.
But it is not enough.
If you have the opportunity, if you get that chance, you must go.
You MUST Go.
Take a flying leap into the unknown, and discover things you never thought you’d see!
Taste foods you never thought you’d eat!
Learn to sing a song with words you may never understand, for you need not know their meaning to appreciate the beauty of sung words, the elegance of their melodies.
This is what I hope to give my children, because this is what was given to me.
The Gift of the World, printed in ink on a paper pass and stamped inside a little blue book.
This is the gift for which I’ll be forever grateful.
This is the gift that everyone deserves.